The first time I rode a bike without the usual toe straps was quite an experience, 1991. Early SPD’s (Shimano pedals), with the tension not adjusted to a good place. Tension adjustment on a pedal reminded me of ski bindings, had a bad experience with those once, didn’t let go when it should have, lead to a leg cast for a few weeks, got better eventually.
That day with new pedals taught me two things- know how to fall, and to look closer at new stuff for hidden secrets. I hobbled into a local hardware store the next day and found an Allen wrench small enough to drastically reduce the tension on the pedals. Everything was great now, I could get out of these easier than toe straps! No more embarrassing falls after stopping. Wet roots and rocks was such a good place to learn how to fall over!
A friend offered me a pair of Crank Bros Eggbeaters, in 2003, https://www.crankbrothers.com/collections/pedals. I like new stuff, especially free new stuff, so I said YES! Why was he giving them away? I was suspicious. He said he kept falling over, couldn’t get released. He said they weren’t adjustable like SPD’s, but had a lot of movement around the cleat. Sounded great to me, I never liked the precise positioning of the SPD and had no desire for increasing any tension mechanisms.
After a quick study of the cleat, odd shape, and pedals, I mounted everything, and went for a ride. I could not believe my friend didn’t like these and that he couldn’t get out of them easily, and it was much easier getting in and out of them, with four entry points. No hidden internal gunk collecting parts, just simple bars and springs, all external. Too simple to be true!
After 16 years riding Eggbeaters, I’ve had no complaints. The only pedal I’ve considered switching to is a fat set of carnivorous flats, but that’ll require some commitment to a learning curve. I’ve had a few different models of the Eggbeater, but never the titanium version. The Ti model was always out of my price range, I was always at the $100 level on pedals. And all these cheaper versions have been great.
You probably would not call me a normal “roadie”, never chased points and upgrades, but I really enjoy long endurance rides. I had a set of road pedals at one time, and after trying to walk in them I decided it was an unnecessary punishment. I’ve been running eggbeaters on everything for many years, and the comfort of the MTB (mountain bike) shoe while off the bike, and not sliding down on a chunk of plastic mounted to a shoe is a huge plus!
Why have I bought new Eggbeaters? Four parts will wear over time- spindle bearings, springs, the bars, and the cleats. What’s the worst failure point? A Candy pedal body left the spindle on a ride once, the securing nut had worked loose and it slid right off. Fortunately, the dust cap was on and all the parts were there. I reassembled, and this worked a while, but eventually it came loose again and I lost parts that time.
I won these Candies in a race, but didn’t want another set, just a plain Eggbeater, so I put the Candies in the back of the bike space, lost forever, and got a new set of Eggbeaters. The bearings will get a little clunky after a couple years, but I always just get a new pair instead of replacing the worn parts. And that leads me to my replacement process.
I’ve worked this out for years and it fits my requirements. No scientific testing here, nor precise evidence, but I have a process. When I get a new set, I put those on the bike, but not the new cleats. Why? Remember, I don’t like a tight fit, and this combo of new pedal and old cleat provides the feel I like. After about six months I’ll replace the cleats. By then the old cleats are almost unrecognizable, I walk a bit on mine (single-speed MTB requires occasional walks). With this replacement process, I can stretch my “new pedal experience” out for almost a year.
Even though the cleats sometimes are unrecognizable, they still work! As it wears down, it will fit loose, and sometimes a little clicking sound occurs during crank rotation. I’ve seen a broken bar on one (I didn’t do it). I’ve seen the remains of the broken titanium spindles, and resulting leg injuries. I may have considered the Eggbeater 11 Ti version, especially while on a team with a great price connection, but I shied away due to the broken ones I had seen. The weight difference between the 11 and the 3 is only about 2 Snickers Bars, so I could just leave two of those at home before heading out on a ride!
My collection has varied between the 1, 2, and 3. I have a set of 1’s on my CX/road bike now, because the store I was buying supplies at only had the 1’s. The 3’s always feel better (completely subjective assessment based on the price and perceived quality after paying a little more). If I had kept records over these 16 years, I might be able to say the 3’s last longer. However, the only accurate claim I can make is that these have always been worth the price, providing an interface with the bike that requires minimal thought.